During a Monday session with the press on the National TV Critics Assn. tour, Chevy Chase, the newest kid on the late night block, seemed eager to stay above the fray, while stressing that talk “doesn’t figure big” in his upcoming Fox Broadcasting Co. series.

“The Chevy Chase Show,” which premieres Sept. 7, is rather being described as a comedy series, featuring a mix of sketches (including each night’s opening), music and interviews as well as a “Nightly News Update” segment similar to the one Chase popularized during his lone season on “Saturday Night Live.”

Chase, whose reception from critics at Fox’s leg of the press tour seemed a bit cool, alluded to the news component starting at 11:34 p.m., just before “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,””Late Show Starring David Letterman” and “Nightline” sign on.

Exec producer Steve Binder said he considers the 11 p.m. start for Chase “a huge advantage,” adding that there’s no reason to assume viewers will tune out if the producers do their job and hold on to them.

Fox is anticipating some fall-off, with ad rates falling from $ 30,000 to $ 20,000 per spot in the second half-hour, according to published reports. The plan calls for 44 original weeks next season, which Chase said will leave little time for his feature career in the near future. He appears in the upcoming movie “Cops and Robbersons.”

Originality stressed

Chase said the goal is to “do the best we can to be original,” and Binder chimed in that “we want to be unpredictable,” with recurring segments evolving over time. Binder maintained “Chase” would be unique because of its host’s qualities as a comic performer and musician as opposed to a standup comic.

Asked about media interest in late night and the much-publicized enmity between certain hosts, Chase said, “I don’t care about any of that crap.” He also said that he didn’t consider front-loading major guests to be important, and consistently downplayed the talk element, saying interviews were necessary because a one-hour nightly series can’t survive solely on scripted material.

Stern phone call

Chase was also asked to comment about an on-air phone call to his home from Howard Stern during which the star-nettling radio host reduced Chase’s maid to tears. Chase said he didn’t listen to Stern, adding, “I have only a sense that he’s a very tall guy with a flabby ass.”

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